Off-Season SMART Goals
Triathlon season is over for most of us in the north and marathon season is coming to a close over the next month as well. So what do we do now? Taking some down time is a great idea - allowing more time to relax, step away from the super structure we have been used to for the past number of months, spend time with family and friends, maybe work on your weaknesses (just going to put it here - get in the pool is a good one for most triathletes) and start thinking about your next season of races and goals.
If you are going to work on goals, think it out clearly and be SMART about it. SMART goals aren’t just for businesses, they are just as important for athletes, because if they aren’t clear and concise, you may jeopardize your season.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
Be Specific – This needs to include the 5Ws – Why, When, What, Where, Who? Who is involved in this goal? When is it? Where is it? What is my goal? And most importantly, Why do I want to set this goal - make this personal, as you’ll want this to be a driving force when the times get tough.
Measurable – How are you going to measure your progress? Logging your progress is important. Have a baseline and go from there. Measure it daily, weekly, and/or monthly. Without logging your progress, how do you know if you are on track and will reach your goal? For my athletes, I use an online program called Training Peaks. We can schedule their workouts, track their progress and see where they started and will finish.
Attainable – With present conditions or restrictions in your life are your goals attainable? Do you have little ones that require being taken to practice 4 times a week? Do you work 5 or 6 days a week 10-12 hours? Do you have a 2 hour commute, each way? Do you have complete control over your schedule? With an attainable goal, you will be able to develop the attitudes, abilities, skills and financial capacity to reach them.
Realistic – A goal must represent something you are able and willing to work towards. You are the only one who knows if it can be too high or realistic. Setting your goals high, will make you work harder to achieve them. But set them too high and you will get frustrated and lose interest. The same will hold true if they are set too low, you will get bored and lose interest.
Timely – You need a time frame for your goal. A start and a finish. Without these, you don’t have a sense of urgency. Therefore, minimizing your chances of achieving your goals.
So an example of your SMART goal could look like this:
It is January 1, I will run the XYZ Marathon on May 4 in a time of 3:30. This is possible as I have the time available and have recently run a half marathon in 1:45 without properly training, therefore, with a plan in place by a coach, I will be able to do this.
Once you have your SMART goals, make sure you write them down!! It’s one thing to have them in your mind, but if it isn’t on “paper”, then they are just thoughts and wishes! Also, go back and review and reassess your goals once in a while. Sometimes, unforeseen life events may slow down your progress or maybe you are attaining your goals faster than anticipated. Either way, it’s always good to go back and check in on yourself.
Meet coach Eric D'Arcy, Limitless Endurance Coaching, NCCP Coach and certified cycling instructor.
I have been coaching athletes towards their running and triathlon goals since 2006. I work with athletes of all abilities – from those just learning to run to ultra endurance competitors. I believe that open communication between coach and athlete is crucial. I can help you to reach your goals in a healthy and well-reasoned manner – however, your open and ongoing communication with me is essential to this process. I continue to learn and develop as a coach and as an athlete in order to better understand and address your needs. I create individualized plans based on each athlete and their personal goals. An effective plan will fit into your life (not overrun it), so that it will become part of your everyday lifestyle – which in turn, will allow you to stay motivated and continue to grow and have fun with your training and racing activities.